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John Hurlbutt, longtime voice of WRVO, dies at 74

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WRVO Public Media
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Former WRVO Morning Edition host and Program Director John Hurlbutt in 2009

A longtime voice of WRVO and a staple in public radio in central New York has passed away. John Hurlbutt, one of WRVO’s founding fathers and longtime voice of Morning Edition on WRVO, died this week at the age of 74.

Hurbutt graduated from Middlesex Valley High School in Yates County and was a student at SUNY Oswego in 1969 when WRVO first went on the air.

“I was in my third year when the station was in development and about to come on the air,” Hurlbutt said in a 2018 interview marking WRVO’s 50th anniversary. “A station manager, Bill Shigley, had been hired. We had a date of January 1969, auditions were held to see who would be on the air, do different things, run the equipment, and away we went.”

At the time, WRVO was only a 10 watt radio station, whose signal was barely heard outside the city of Oswego. During Hurlbutt’s time at WRVO, the station grew to 50,000 watts, with a number of transmitters and translators across central and northern New York.

Hurlbutt served as WRVO’s program director for nearly 30 years, and when NPR started a new show called Morning Edition, Hurlbutt served as local host until his retirement in 2009.

“The days began very early, in all kinds of weather,” he said. “I was on the air until 9 or 10 a.m. at the time, and then I would go back to the office to supervise other staff and work on the schedule.

Hurlbutt was an avid golfer, and spent as much time on the course as possible after he retired. He loved spending time with friends and family, and was also a fan of the New York Mets, and Cleveland Browns, Syracuse Orange and Oswego State Lakers.

His contributions to WRVO and the Oswego community are immeasurable and he will be deeply missed.

Read John's obituary from Nelson Funeral Home.